Gerringong organic farmer bides her time

Patience pays off for organic farmers, with the rich soils of the South Coast helping crops gradually build resistance to pests.

Gerringong woman Jessica Taylor has been reaping the rewards of her patience after tending to her garden since 2004, when she and husband Andrew Petersen moved from Sydney.

Taylor set up an organic backyard food garden at Foxground using a commercial landshare arrangement and it has now grown into a market garden-style operation.

"It's where you connect with people who own land but may not be using it, so if you want to grow a garden you can do it on someone else's land," Taylor says of the landshare program.

Taylor has already had a great deal of experience in promoting the region's fresh produce.

She started the Gerringong-based Green Box Regional Food Co-operative three years ago and just last year began using the crops of her garden to create Local Feast Gourmet Hampers, with the range including breakfast, family, picnic and dinner for two baskets.

Cooks at Jamberoo's Crust and Crumb Catering and Gerringong's A Bite on the Side Catering have been enlisted to help create the hampers, which use fresh Illawarra produce.

"Some people cook, some people grow," Taylor says, adding that she doesn't consider herself a good cook.

Taylor says she has always been passionate about growing food and has childhood memories of planter boxes on window sills.

When asked whether organic farming is difficult, her reply is that the only real challenge is learning a lot in a short period of time.

"Organic is just a mindset - it's just a different way of doing things," Taylor says.

"Good growing is all about the soil. People use pesticides because they can't wait for a few years to have the soil at its best so the plants can be resilient and in turn become resistant to pests."

The Foxground garden includes beans, zucchini, tomatoes, different lettuces, herbs, edible flowers, kale and cabbages.

Local Feast also has food from the garden at the market at Jamberoo Pub every Saturday from 8am.

Taylor says she doesn't buy into the war with major supermarkets, but sees organic growing as being important more for the sake of sustainability.

"Rather than whingeing I feel you need to do something about it," Taylor says.

"The land around here is so lush and productive there's no excuse not to grow food."

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